The Memphis Grizzlies are a machine greater than the sum of its parts. As such, Grizzlies fandom need not fret about Memphis dropping their last four. Albeit a cliche, the NBA campaign is a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Memphis is fortunate to be in the position they find themselves in, considering the team has seen their top-tier players drop like flies throughout the season.
Instead of dwelling on the past, let’s look to the present. The Grizzlies will take on the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night, with the top storyline being the floor general battle between Ja Morant and LaMelo Ball. Memphis faithful should tune into this one, as the two point guards should face off head-to-head now that Ball has earned the starting nod in Charlotte.
I reached out to At The Hive writer Chase Whitney for a purple-colored perspective ahead of what should be an enthralling contest.
Just how high is LaMelo Ball’s ceiling?
The sky is the limit for LaMelo. He’s a generational playmaker at 6’6” and he’s already improved on his biggest weaknesses (scoring efficiency, on-ball defense) since he made his debut. I don’t think he’s going to be the best player in the NBA someday or anything—I wouldn’t 100 percent rule it out—but I do think he’s going to show that he was the best prospect in his draft class by making multiple All-Star/All-NBA teams. I’m biased, but I think a lot of other people feel the same way.
Has Gordon Hayward officially returned to All-Star form after an up-and-down stint in Boston?
Absolutely, he’s been more than the Hornets could’ve asked for. The frontcourt is loaded in the East this year so it’ll be tough for him to make it, but I think 22.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals with a 61.0 true shooting percentage is definitely All-Star caliber play given where most people expected him and the Hornets to be heading into the season.
Sitting with a 12-13 record, is a postseason appearance realistic for this Hornets team as constructed?
If you’d said “play-in,” I would’ve said yes, but I’m not entirely convinced that the Hornets are ready to win important games like that yet. They *should* make the play-in tournament with relative ease, but winning that is a different animal for a franchise that’s still in year two of a rebuild.
Does Charlotte head coach James Borrego belong in the conversation amongst the league’s best young coaches?
James Borrego is one of the more underrated coaches in the league, each team that he’s coached in Charlotte has exceeded expectations. He gets the most out of his players, because he seems to genuinely care about them and want them to succeed, and he does a good job of figuring out what roles to put players in that give them the best chance to do so. The player development staff has been really good since Borrego came to town.
Which of Terry Rozier and DeVonte Graham is more likely to remain in Charlotte for the long-term?
I’d place my bet on Graham but I’m not overly confident in it. He’s a restricted free agent this offseason and Rozier is signed through 2021-2022, but Rozier is a more tradable asset given his production and salary. Charlotte is going to have to make a move eventually if they want to keep Graham, which I believe they want to do. A future backcourt of LaMelo and Graham seems slightly more plausible than LaMelo and Rozier, to me.